2014 Napier Awardees
Karen Castro-Ayala - Scripps College
Karen is troubled by food insecurity, high levels of poverty, and low high-school graduation rates in heavily Latino/Hispanic Pasco, WA, an area she often visited with her family as a child. She sees these problems as justice issues and hopes to bring about positive change through her project there. Drawing on experience working in a summer day camp in LA and gardening with high-school students in Pomona and with Crossroads residents in Claremont, she plans to partner with a church that is deeply embedded in the Pasco community to develop a community garden and summer day camp called “Roots of Change” for middle and high school students. The program will include gardening, cooking, food-justice discussions, environmental-justice workshops, art and music projects, along with an academic-enrichment component. Karen envisions this program as the starting point for an after-school tutoring program and a potential organization through which community members can come together to demand change and transform their neighborhoods.
Marcela Jones - Pitzer College
While working with Huerta del Valle Community Garden in Ontario, CA, a non-profit organization promoting a healthy lifestyle and food justice in the community, Marcela became concerned about the unjust situation of the predominantly low-income and low-resource minority families of color in the area surrounding the Garden. The children are severely disadvantaged educationally. Overcrowded classrooms and insufficient funding for schools leave children whose first language is not English struggling to keep up with the curriculum. Marcela will start a reading initiative with the children of the Garden and the surrounding community. By focusing on reading, she believes the children can be empowered to increase their vocabularies and master the English language so that they will communicate more effectively, have greater confidence, and find encouragement to strive for better futures. She will also involve local youth as a means of training them to carry on the program.
Bianca Shiu & Sharon Jan - Pomona College
Sharon and Bianca have had the opportunity to work with several educational nonprofits where they saw a need for improvement in student writing. Bianca volunteered with Pomona Hope and Uncommon Good and interned with 826LA and Breakthrough Collaborative to develop her teaching and leadership skills. Sharon worked with Pomona Hope Kids as an Outreach Coordinator and tutor and interned with the Los Angeles Urban Project and Adventures Ahead in South LA as a volunteer teacher. Both share excitement about educational equity and believe in the importance of writing in college and career readiness, which led them to create the Weekly Writing Workshop (3W) at Pomona College. The mission of 3W is to empower underprivileged public school students by strengthening their technical writing skills and creative expression through individualized feedback and engaging creative writing lessons. College mentors play a large role in the 3W program, working with the same 2-3 students through the entire semester. 3W is partnering locally with Uncommon Good and CLASP and is also expanding to four more college campuses this year. The Napier project to be carried out by Bianca and Sharon will expand the program to other campuses by providing motivated college students with writing curriculum and guidance in setting up their own sustainable 3W chapters. In addition, they will plan two national training conferences where there will be practice-teaching with feedback, training for 3W mentor management, and vision setting to create a cohesive program that will benefit local communities across the United States.